Top Oregon Pinot Noir Picks

Just in time for the holidays, eight Oregon pinot noirs from the excellent 2006 vintage that are both affordable and delicious

The year 2006 was an excellent vintage for pinot noir in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. The warm summer and almost ideal harvest season (a rarity in this part of the world) produced supple, fruit-driven pinot noirs that still remain under the radar for many Americans. Here my colleague, Dr. Jay Miller, recommends some of the best 2006s.

90 points 2006 Brick House Wines Pinot Noir Select

The 2006 Pinot Noir Select is the entry-level wine from this estate. Medium ruby-colored with a fragrant perfume of red cherry and raspberry, this layered, easygoing wine has excellent concentration and a silky finish. This crowd-pleasing effort will drink well for another five to seven years. $29

90 points 2006 Ponzi Vineyards Pinot Noir

The 2006 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley from Ponzi is medium ruby-colored with an expressive perfume of spice box, earth notes, cherry, and raspberry. Friendly and easygoing, it also has good concentration and depth leading to a lengthy, fruit-filled close. Drink it over the next eight years. $35

91 points 2006 Adelsheim Vineyard Pinot Noir Elizabeth's Reserve

The 2006 Pinot Noir Elizabeth's Reserve offers up a lovely perfume of cedar, red fruits, and earth notes. Delicate yet concentrated, this velvety wine is reminiscent in style of a Dujac Premier Cru (at a fraction of the price). Common sense says to drink this feminine effort over the next several years, but its impeccable balance may carry it for a longer ride. $50

91 points 2006 Antica Terra Pinot Noir

The winemaker/partner at Antica Terra is Maggie Harrison, who worked at Sine Qua Non from 1998 to 2006. The winery purchased a 40-acre property in 2005, and 2006 is the first vintage. The 2006 Pinot Noir Willamette Valley includes some contracted fruit. Medium ruby-colored, it has an attractive bouquet of spice box, wood smoke, and red fruit compote. This leads to a mouth-filling wine with layers of sweet fruit. It has excellent concentration, depth, and a lengthy finish. Drink this tasty effort over the next eight years. $46

91 points 2006 Domaine Serene Pinot Noir Evenstad Reserve

Domaine Serene's 2006 Evenstad Reserve is a blend of over 70 lots. Medium ruby-colored, it offers notes of cedar, cinnamon, clove, cassis, and raspberry. This is followed by a medium- to full-bodied wine with layers of complex red fruits, enough structure to evolve for three to four years, excellent integration of oak, tannin, and acidity, and a lengthy finish. Drink it from 2010 to 2018. $58

91 points 2006 Panther Creek Cellars Pinot Noir Freedom Hill Vineyard

The 2006 Pinot Noir Freedom Hill Vineyard was aged for 16 months in 30% new French oak. Dark ruby-colored, it has an enticing bouquet of spice notes, pomegranate, and assorted black fruits. On the palate, earth notes and cola make an appearance. Nicely structured with good depth, concentration, and balance, the wine should evolve for two to three years and drink well through 2020. $40

92 points 2006 Argyle Winery Pinot Noir Reserve

Argyle's 2006 Pinot Noir Reserve is medium ruby-colored. Its superb bouquet is already complex with notes of spice box, earth, cherry, and raspberry. This leads to a smooth-textured, elegant, ripe wine with vibrant acidity for the vintage and excellent overall balance. Drink this outstanding effort over the next eight years. $35

92 points 2006 Cristom Vineyards Pinot Noir Louise Vineyard

The 2006 Pinot Noir Louise Vineyard is medium ruby-colored with a superb bouquet of pain grillé, mineral, cranberry, cherry, and rose petals. Layered and plush on the palate, it has loads of savory fruit, complex flavors, and a silky-smooth finish that lasts for 45 seconds. Give it three to four years in the cellar and drink it from 2012 to 2020. $50

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